Untermyer Pounces on Police As Vandal Wave Hits Yorkville
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Untermyer Pounces on Police As Vandal Wave Hits Yorkville

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While Jewish merchants of New York’s Nazi stronghold, Yorkville, were angrily pointing accusing fingers at DAWA, local anti-Jewish boycott organization, as being either directly or indirectly responsible for defacing their store windows, police of the district yesterday were subjected to a stinging attack by Samuel Untermyer in a letter to Police Commissioner John J. O’Ryan.

Mr. Untermyer, as president of the Anti-Nazi Non-Sectarian League to Champion Human Rights, charged in his letter that Yorkville police were guilty of “wantonly failing to do their duty” in not detecting the vandalism and punishing the offenders.

Starting Friday night and continuing through Yom Kippur on Wednesday, windows of approximately seventy-six Jewish stores in Yorkville were marked with both swastika symbol and the word “Jew” etched deeply into them with glass cutters.


Most of the stores affected are concentrated in the neighborhood of Seventy-ninth street and First avenue. The vandal or vandals responsible did the worst damage to a dry goods store at 1561 First avenue, operated for the past twenty-five years by the firm of Belsky and Siegel. Twelve of the windows fronting this store were scratched with swastikas and the word “Jew.” All twelve will have to be replaced at an estimated cost of $400 to $500. As the windows were not broken, but merely scratched, the damage is not covered by insurance.

In all, the cost of replacement the shopkeepers have incurred as a result of the defacement is estimated as approaching $1,000. Most of the merchants interviewed by the Jewish Daily Bulletin have indicated they will immediately install new plate glass fronts.

The hands that wielded the glass cutters were impartial in their selection of victims. In two blocks on Second avenue, between Seventy-eighth and Eightieth streets, the imprints of the marauders was left on dairy stores, haberdashers, pharmacies, stationery shops and clothing stores.

On First avenue, beside the Belsky and Siegel establishment, Prince’s Paint Shop and Wertheim’s clothing store were most seriously damaged. A report that the Seventy-ninth Street Theatre, at 1519 Second avenue, owned and operated by Jews, had been one of the chief targets of the attack was found to be entirely without foundation. None of the windows had been subjected to defacement. The manager scouted the reports and said the theatre had never experienced any difficulties. In the immediate vicinity of the theatre, however, several shops were defaced.


An employee of one of the stores principally affected (who asked that his name and details be withheld) said there was good reason to believe DAWA was behind the vandalism. This store was one of the first to be attacked, if not the very first. The scratched windows were discovered Saturday morning at opening time. A report was immediately made to the Sixty-seventh precinct station.

The clerk at the store in question stated that on Friday night there had been a serious altercation between one of the owners of the shop and a man notorious in the neighborhood as one of the most fanatic Nazis and members of DAWA. It is understood details of the affair have been placed in the hands of a prominent attorney, and, if investigation discloses sufficient evidence, criminal prosecution will be demanded.

Prominent members of both the Friends of New Germany, local Nazi organization of which Dr. Hubert Schnuch is national president, and DAWA were quick to deny that either of their organizations would countenance or encourage such outrages.

It was recalled by the Jewish shopkeepers that about a year ago similar cases of vandalism had occurred and the offenders were never brought to book.


At the Sixty-seventh street precinct, the sergeant in charge declared that the first reports of the window scratching had been made only Thursday morning, the day following Yom Kippur. This is in direct contradiction to statements made by many of the shopkeepers affected that they had immediately reported the incidents as soon as discovered on Saturday morning. Among the merchants who told a Jewish Daily Bulletin reporter that they had reported the affair to police Saturday were Belsky and Siegel, Prince’s Paint Store and Wertheim’s clothing store, all on First avenue.

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